Kids and the Battle for Work-Life Balance in the Age of COVID-19
Author: Alessandra Nagy
May 20, 2020
According to the 2017 U.S. Census, only about 5.2% of American adults—some 8 million people—regularly worked from home three years ago.
In the past two months, since the novel coronavirus has swept across the globe and upended business as usual, many more Americans have found themselves rapidly setting up and settling into a new work-from-home situation. How many? Some experts put the figure as high as 50% of the U.S. workforce—that’s 60 or 70 million Americans.
Bospar is—and has been—an all-virtual agency since it opened for business in 2015. So, most Bospar team members are finding their work life not very different from what it was before the crisis.
Bospar parents, on the other hand, are having to make some adjustments while retaining their focus on providing excellent client service and generating invaluable results at a time when great PR and communication have never been more important.
New Work-Life Balance Is Tricky
For Bospartans with kids—and millions of other parents struggling to work from home with cooped-up children—the home office has become a bit more chaotic than usual.
“The biggest challenge for me is toddler-generated noise, which can sometimes go on for long stretches,” said Mick Emmett, VP of content and parent of an almost 3-year-old son. “We’ve got a small house, so there’s nowhere to hide. It sometimes makes focusing on calls and work sessions challenging.”
“My husband and I are both trying to work while keeping our 7-year-old healthy, happy and educated. It’s difficult,” said Stacey Grimsrud, Senior Account Manager. “While others report feeling calm and bored during this time of sheltering in place, I feel the opposite. We wake up and hit the ground running.”
Creativity and Adaptability Are Key
Luckily, the struggle isn’t the whole story. While work schedules have had to adapt, Bospartans with kids are finding creative ways to get work done while managing childcare.
“We’re really fortunate in that our son loves remote learning. The three of us sit around a big dining room table and work alongside one another,” added Grimsrud. “We think one day we’ll look back and see this family time as a gift, even though parts of it have been challenging.”
“I watch the kids for the first half of the day, and my husband watches them until bedtime. It means he’s up early, and I often work well into the evening, but we both get in an 8-hour day, which is pretty amazing,” said Rachel Thomas, senior content associate and mother of a 3-year-old daughter and a 9-month-old son. “We also have a cute new daily ritual. While my son naps, my daughter likes to sit next to me to do ‘homework’—use learning apps—while I work. It’s my favorite part of the day.”
Some Relish the Unexpected Family Time
Some Bospartan parents—in particular, those with older children and childcare—are relishing the unexpected quality time with their families.
“My 17-year-old daughter misses seeing her friends but has actually seemed less stressed with the break from school. She’s been practicing her driving on nearly empty roads, running in the neighborhood, and studying for her upcoming AP exams and SAT test. We’ve been having some really good conversations about healthcare, our political system and infectious diseases,” said Bospar VP Sara Black.
As for me, I have two sons—one 5 years old and one 2 years old. I am homeschooling my older son; I created a super flexible schedule for us so that we don’t end up watching The Sandlot over and over again, which my sons would happily do if I let them. In addition, we’re getting help from my mother-in-law, who is sheltering in place with us!
Meanwhile, my husband’s been working at home for the first time ever. We’re sharing an office, and he’s actually been using an ironing board as his desk, so it’s definitely more inconvenient for him than for me. But we’re making the best of it.
In fact, I can honestly say that all Bospartan parents are truly making the best of a challenging situation. And our clients would agree. They continue to get the best of Bospar!